SNAP Review – The Bad News Bears: More Bärenpark!
The Bad News Bears is a two-part expansion for Bärenpark, everyone’s favorite un-bear-lievable polyomino game from Phil Walker-Harding and Lookout Games.
Listen in as we tell you all about this expansion to our favorite polyomino game with un-bear-ably cute puns.
We reviewed Bärenpark, a 2-4 player polyomino game, all the way back in 2017. Read the review to find out about this Koala-ity family experience that we give a 9/10!
The Bad News Bears is a two-part expansion. While it doesn’t add a fifth player, it does add two cool new modules; the Monorail Module (you’re above everyone else) and the Grizzly Module.
In Bad News Bears there’s the components for the Grizzly Expansion, which are these huge polyomino pieces, bigger than anything in the base game. There’s also some higher value bear statues, and 8 point animal houses. So one more for each of the enclosures: brown bears, polar bears, koala bears, and panda bears, worth 8 points; the highest value in the base game is 7. Finally there are a stack of four Park Exit areas, which are park expansion tiles but with exits, that must be placed so that side is open (so visitors can exit your park!).
The monorail expansion has monorail towers and monorail cars. The cars have points like the animal houses do, so as they’re built they’re worth less points.
There’s also some new achievements and some new toilet tiles that are these super cute, well, bear shaped port-o-potties.
The game recommends playing with each expansion separately before combining them, which is a good idea. But once we knew how it all works, we had no problems mixing expansions.
With the monorail expansion, you’re adding another layer of puzzle onto your park. Whenever you build a green space (so a food street, bathroom, river tile, or playground) you can choose to put a tower on one of those squares. If you’re putting a second one down, and it’s two spaces away from another one, you can hang a monorail car on it. You take the top monorail car from the stack and hang it across the two towers.
The interesting thing about this part of the puzzle is that your monorail cars always have to meet at right angles (you can’t go straight through a tower into a second car) and you can’t have any loops. You also can only have one continuous monorail in your park. So you have to zig zag your monorail through your bear park while you’re building your enclosures and other tiles around it. It’s a completely different puzzle and totally changes the game.
Then there’s the grizzly expansion. At any time during your turn, you can trade in an animal enclosure (koala, panda, brown, polar) AND a green space, for one of the grizzly tiles. This isn’t your turn, so you can take your turn and then do it immediately before the next person goes OR make the exchange before your turn starts.
There’s also extra statues and enclosures for points, and instead of only having a four tile park, you get a fifth tile that has to be an exit. The exit must always be above your entrance, and not blocked off in any way.
And that’s it! There are new achievements, but they change the game even less than the modules.
We love how the two expansions in The Bad News Bears are totally different, but play well off each other. The Grizzlies is more of the Bärenpark that you already know and love. The Monorail is a completely different puzzle that layers on top of the existing game.
In fact, the two different modules play against each other if you use them both. You need to trade in green spaces (with animal houses) to get grizzly tiles, but you need green spaces in your park to put down monorail towers!
The achievements in the box are really interesting and give some new twists. Everything from unusual placements (playgrounds next to statues, rivers in corners) to nearly impossible (place an orange enclosure tile without covering any symbols). These give a lot of ways to mix up the game.
Even though monorail totally changes the game, adding a completely different kind of spatial puzzle, it still feels like Bärenpark.
Using this new expansion, no matter what elements we included, our scores diverged more than when we play the base game. It means there’s more room for different strategies and ways to get points. With the Grizzlies and the Monorails, people can do completely different things and make very interesting boards.
Neither expansion makes the game significantly more difficult. If your kids are already playing Bärenpark, they’ll be able to handle at least one of the included modules, if not both.
Lastly, adding both modules did not significantly increase the playtime. Adding both modules takes about the same amount of time as adding one, which is a real bonus when playing with kids.
As far as we are concerned, The Bad News Bears is well worth adding to your copy of Bärenpark. Find it on Amazon or ask for it at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Bad News Bears from Lookout Games for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Barenpark: The Bad News Bears
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 30-45 minutes